Although almost over, April is National Heartworm Awareness month. Just recently I had someone say to me,
I don’t give my dog heartworm medication because it’s full of pesticides. I’ll just treat it if he gets infected.
Yes, I’m serious.
If you have seen a dog infected with heartworms, you know that the damage is real and it is horrifying to see a dog suffer. Heartworms are not something to take lightly. The foot-long worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels causing:
- severe lung disease
- heart failure
- artery & organ damage
- decreased health and quality of life (even after treatment)
How common is heartworm infection?
As you can see, the south has much higher rates of heartworm infection. Even if you live in a “white” area, protecting your dog is still a must. Stray dogs, coyotes, and foxes can be infected and transmit the disease. Currently, we live in an area with very low rates of heartworm, but I am not willing to take the risk.
How are heartworms transmitted?
The following image is a great guide to understanding heartworm infection.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
When first infected, the signs of heartworm disease are minimal or even nonexistent. However, as the disease progresses, signs become more pronounced. Signs include:
- persistent cough
- increased fatigue
- decreased appetite
- weight loss
- swollen belly
Heartworm infection is a serious problem that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Please remember to give your dog monthly heartworm preventative. For more information, visit the American Heartworm Society.